DEP still tainted with allegations of incompetence and corruption of process

April 11, 2003 - Greens (WA) Member for the Mining and Pastoral Region Robin Chapple has asked questions in State Parliament calling upon the Minister for the Environment and Heritage and the Department of the Environmental Protection to prosecute Total Waste Management in Boulder for causing pollution with odour. The plant has been severely affecting the health, welfare, convenience, comfort and amenity of the Miller Family (who live in close proximity to the waste plant), and others in the Kalgoorlie-Boulder area.

As reported in the Kalgoorlie Miner, in 1996 the DEP, working in conjunction with the Kalgoorlie Boulder City Council, shut down a West Kalgoorlie firm Ron Gee Enterprises when it failed to abide by a condition that it not use resins within normal working hours, so as to avoid affecting nearby businesses.

'It's about time this Department started seriously protecting the people of Kalgoorlie-Boulder who live in this environment, and stopped bending over backwards for industry. Industry has a important role to play in our community but not at the expense of residents', Mr Chapple said.

'The DEP has clearly shown, as with Ron Gee Enterprises and others, that it can act to protect the people, and now is the time to be serious in enforcing the law. One can't help but believe the department is seriously incompetent or simply doesn't care,' he said.

A recent review on the 'Enforcement and Prosecution Guidelines of the DEP' by Dr Brian Robertson AM FTSE stated:

The Review has concluded that there is a lack of clarity about the role of enforcement within the Department, that there is inadequate connection between enforcement activities and other activities related to the same premises, that there is confusion on the role of prosecutions, that enforcement and prosecution skills need enhancing and that there is a need for greater transparency and communication with the community.'

Mr Chapple said the department's failure to prosecute Total Waste Management was simply another in a long list of failures by a department which has been tainted by allegations of incompetence and corruption of process.

Mr Chapple said the overwhelming community concerns throughout the state including such issues as the Bellevue Disaster, Alcoa's emissions, Brookdale toxic waste plant, Cockburn Cement, Kalgoorlie Cement Works and many others highlight the need for a full scale independent judicial inquiry into the staff and workings of the Department of Environmental Protection.

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